Comprehension for Kindergarten

What is Comprehension?

Parents reading with child.

Reading comprehension refers to the ability to understand what one reads. It is the ultimate goal of reading instruction. (Definition from University of Oregon)

In kindergarten, students are able to understand what they read or what is read to them. They are able to remember what is read, answer questions, and think deeply about the story or text.

What Does it Look Like?

Can the child tell what happened in the story?

Can the child share details of a story?

Practice Activities

Predict When Reading: Have the child predict what will happen next when reading a book together. Sample questions include:

  • What do you think is going to happen next?
  • Oh no! What is she going to do now?
  • What would you do if you were him?
  • How are they going to solve this problem?

Read Expressions: Use illustrations to help a child build their vocabulary and start to understand emotions. When a character is sad, happy, angry or surprised, pause to look at illustrations and talk about the characters' facial expressions. Ask, "How do you think she's feeling right now?". Authors who are particularly skilled at portraying emotions in both words and pictures include Kevin Henkes, Patricia Polacco, Arnold Lobel and Mo Willems.

Draw a Picture: Have the child draw a picture of the story. Ask the child to tell you about their drawing. Learn how to add more meaningful discussion to this activity here.  Engage in the 3Ts.

Act it Out: Invite the child to act out parts of a story by pretending to be one of the characters. Join in and pretend with them!

Five Finger Retell: Retell a story with the child, having each finger represent a story element. Your thumb is the characters, pointer finger is the setting (where the tory took place), middle finger is the beginning, ring finger is the middle events, and pinkie is the solution end.

Make Connections: Connect personal experiences with recently read stories or informational texts (e.g., Your shoes got dirty. Now they look brown like Pete the Cat’s shoes in Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes.).

PEER Method:

  • P: Prompt the child with a question about the story. Prompting the child focuses attention, engages the child in the story, and helps the child understand the book. Point to something in the picture, for example, a balloon. "What is that?"
  • E: Evaluate the child's response. "That's right! That's a balloon."
  • E: Expand on what the child said. "That's a big, red balloon! We saw one of those in the grocery store yesterday."
  • R: Repeat or revisit the prompt you started with, encouraging the child to use the new information you've provided. "Can you say big, red balloon?" Each time the book is reread, the expanded vocabulary words are verbalized again.

Don't feel obligated to use the PEER procedure on every page, with every book. Keep it fun! Use PEER when it fits and when the child is engaged with the story. See PEER information in English and Spanish.

Practice Activities (with Printables)

If you don't have a printer, your child's school will print these for you.

Questions to Ask: During Story Time Ask questions before, during and after reading together.  Story Time Questions

Story Sequencing: Draw and/or write to retell a story together.  Story Sequence Organizer

Online Activities

Sequencing Train: This game includes reading the train cars with the child, discussing the order of events, and placing the train cars in the correct order.